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Finding the Formula of Magnesium Oxide

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Finding the Formula of Magnesium Oxide Theory: Magnesium is a metallic element and oxygen is a non-metallic element. When these two elements react, magnesium is oxidized into magnesium oxide. This is an ionic reaction where the magnesium atom loses two electrons and forms the magnesium ion with a positive charge of 2. Similarly, oxygen atom changes into ionic form (with a negative charge of 2) gaining the two electrons from the magnesium atom. Finally, the two ions, carrying equal but opposite charges, combine to form magnesium oxide. The reaction is represented schematically in Chart 1 Chart 1: Formation of Ionic Compound Magnesium Oxide Objective of the Experiment: The objective of this experiment is to conduct the above chemical reaction under laboratory conditions, observe the changes and calculate the mass of oxygen gained during the process and finally arrive at the chemical formula of Magnesium Oxide. ...read more.


Ratio of Oxygen: 2.5*10-3 / 2.5*10-3 = 1 Ratio of Magnesium: 3.75*10-3/ 2.5*10-3 = 1.5 It can therefore be said that for every one atom of oxygen there are 1.5 atoms of magnesium. However this experiment does not give the most accurate results. The actual formula of magnesium oxide is MgO, which means that for every one atom of oxygen there is only one atom of magnesium. This has been proven theoretically in chart 1. Error Analysis: There are many reasons why this experiment didn't give the exact formula of magnesium oxide. 1. Air is about 80% nitrogen. So burning Mg in air results not only in the formation of magnesium oxide, but also a small amount of a "byproduct", magnesium nitride. 2. Before starting the experiment the crucibles should have been washed so as to be sure that there were no other particles in it. ...read more.


We were given less than two hours to perform the experiment, which meant that we could all do it only once. This was a great disadvantage as there was no time to verify our results by conducting the experiment again. This was the first practical of the year so I was a bit careless in carrying it out. I should have been more alert while performing the experiment. Improving the Investigation: I recommend doing this experiment in a fume cupboard so that any products of the combustion do not escape with the gas as the lid of the crucible is lifted up to let oxygen in. At lest it will stay in one concentrated area and not around the rest of the room where it won't get used at all. For the experiment to be more accurate the crucibles should be washed before the start of the experiment. I would also recommend that the experiment topic be given beforehand so that students can research about it and be more aware of what is to be done and do it with as little error as possible. ...read more.

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